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Private Label KQ002CD  

Now a household name - or at least a familiar concept - KQ have cooked up a storm on this second album, following on from a very classy debut and raising their own high bar for This Too. More of their own compositions, mostly from lead fiddler Aileen Reid but at least one piece from each band member, are supplemented by a small handful of tunes by men. There's also one traditional melody, MacGregor Of Rora, composer unknown. Of course, Kinnaris Quintet have arranged the face off every scrap of material here, with bags of style and sophistication and sequins. Prepare to be rocked to your core.

Wonderful kicks off, and kicks ass, three fiddles grinding out a diamond-hard groove over bedrock guitar and piercing mandolin, mellowing to a driving reel passed from hand to hand, then exploding into dozens of whirling rhythms. Period Drama is further from Bridgerton than you might think, a flapper's dance by Ian Carr followed by an urgent contemporary reel neatly resolved. The next two tracks are more laid back, cheerful but still carefully arranged with lots going on under the surface. Each has a remarkable story too. I'm not sure which is more amazing, 150 Dalmatian tambourines, or finding a hill on North Uist!

Burdland brings back the hectic high-octane sound we know and love from these ladies, Laura-Beth Salter's mandolin and Jenn Butterworth's guitar setting a furious pace for the fiddles to follow. Laura Wilkie and Fiona MacAskill don't disappoint, launching into Aileen's jig Sister Bliss with gusto, and all five create another neat ending. The B theme continues with Bonobo's, a gentle creature tribute, followed by Halifax which starts tranquil but waxes thunderous. The title tune is inspired by ancient words of wisdom, and is indeed appropriate for every occasion. A two-part penultimate track runs through the full spectrum of styles and emotions before the plucky finale combines music old and new, serene and stomping, for a memorable climax. This Too is a gem of an album, and the live show will probably be even shinier.

Alex Monaghan


This review appeared in Issue 144 of The Living Tradition magazine